Palace welcomes arrest of primary suspect in Demafelis murder

MANILA -- MalacaAang on Saturday welcomed the arrest of one of the principal suspects in the murder of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Demafelis in Kuwait.

In a text message to reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. also said he hopes that the principal suspects would also be punished for the torture and murder of the 29-year-old domestic helper from Sara, Iloilo.

We are thankful for the arrest but hoping that they be prosecuted and punished for Joanna's murder," said Roque.

Asked if the government would also hold Demafelis' recruiters accountable for the incident, Roque said President Rodrigo R. Duterte had asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to summon them.

On Friday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced the arrest of the suspect the same day the President visited Demefelis' wake in her home province.

Duterte also assured her family that the government will seek justice for her and other OFWs abused by their employers abroad.

Nader Essam Assaf, a Lebanese national, together with his wife, Mona, a Syrian national, have been tagged as principal suspects in Demafelis' death.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said he expects Kuwaiti authorities to request the extradition of Assaf so he could stand trial in Kuwait.

Assaf's arrest is a critical first step in our quest for justice for Joanna and we are thankful to our friends in Kuwait and Lebanon for their assistance, Cayetano said.

The DFA said Assaf and his wife have been the subject of an Interpol manhunt after Kuwaiti authorities discovered early this month the battered body of Demafelis inside a freezer in the couple's abandoned apartment unit more than a year after her family reported her missing.

Kuwaiti authorities relayed the arrest of Assaf to Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa during a meeting at the Ministry of Interior on Thursday. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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